Wildcats Return to Practice

Dec. 11, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a week of coaches recruiting and players preparing for next week’s final examinations, the Kentucky football team returned to practice Saturday morning with a two-hour workout in the Nutter Field House.

After practice, Coach Joker Phillips announced that senior quarterback Mike Hartline has received a disciplinary suspension for UK’s game against Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl on January 8.

“Mike has had a good record here conduct-wise and I regret that this has happened but it did,” Phillips said.  “(He has) helped this program accomplish a fifth-straight bowl. He has done a great job at that. But, we have clear expectations of how we want our players to act, how we want them to behave. Therefore, we are going to suspend him for this game.

“It is tough on me because of how I feel about Mike and what he has done for this program but that is something that you have to do as a head coach. You have to make a decision and our expectations are clear cut. We have to stick with them.”

Hartline completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 3,178 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.  Highlights of the season included becoming the first quarterback to win three-straight Governor’s Cup games over Louisville and leading the Wildcats to the biggest comeback in win school history, a 31-28 thriller over South Carolina after UK trailed 28-10 at halftime.

“We have 120 guys on our football team and the vast majority of the team our guys are doing what they are supposed to do,” Phillips continued.  “However, when something like this happens we have to hold them accountable. Our team understands that the expectation from here on is that somebody has to step up. It is an opportunity for someone else to step up and help us win this year.”

Phillips also announced that sophomore Morgan Newton will start the bowl game.  Newton has played in only four games this season, completing 4-of-7 passes for 54 yards.  Newton started the last eight games of the 2009 season when Hartline was injured, completing 55.6 percent of his passes for 706 yards and six touchdowns.

“Morgan will be the guy,” Phillips said  “He is the guy that has been the second for a long time this season but Moss (redshirt freshman Ryan Mossakowski) will have a chance as we practice to plead his case also and have a chance to play.”

The team will practice again Sunday before going through final examinations next week.